Tanach

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The Tanach (or Tanakh) is the Hebrew term for the Jewish Bible, also called the Hebrew Bible; Christians refer to it as the Old Testament. The text of the Tanach is identical to the Protestant Canon of the Christian Old Testament, except that some parts are printed in a slightly different order.

The Tanach consists of 24 books, while the Christian Old Testament (excluding the deuterocanon/apocrypha) has 39 books; they both contain the same text but divide it into books differently: Jews often count as a single book what Christians count as several.

The Tanach is traditionally broken down into the Torah (The Law), Neviim (The Prophets) and Ketuvim (The Writings). A Haftorah is a selection from the Prophets which has traditionally been associated with a particular passage in the Torah. In the first century A.D., Masoretes added vowel pointings to the text of the Tanach.

The Books of the Torah (the Law) are named after the first word in each book. The Torah consists of:

1 Bereshit - Genesis
2 Shemot - Exodus
3 Vayikra - Leviticus
4 Bamidbar - Numbers
5 Devarim - Deuteronomy

The books of Neviim (The Prophets) are:

6 Joshua
7 Judges
8 I Samuel (Shmuel)
9 II Samuel
10 I Kings (Melachim)
11 II Kings
12 Isaiah
13 Jeremiah
14 Ezekiel
15 Treisar - The Minor Prophets
Book of Hosea
Book of Joel
Book of Amos
Book of Obadiah
Book of Jonah
Book of Micah
Book of Nahum
Book of Habakkuk
Book of Zephaniah
Book of Haggai
Book of Zechariah
Book of Malachi

The Ketuvim (The Writings) are:

16 Psalms
17 Proverbs
18 Book of Job
19 Megilot
Song of Songs
Ruth
Lamentations
Ecclesiastes
Book of Esther
20 Daniel
21 Ezra
22 Nehemiah
23 I Chronicles (Divrei hayamim)
24 II Chronicles
  • The Christian bible's version of Daniel includes extra material that is not accepted as canonical by Judaism.
  • The breaking of Samuel (Shmuel), Kings (Melachim), and Chronicles (Divrei hayamim) into two parts is strictly an artifact of the printers who first issued the books. They were simply too big to be issued as single volumes.

Even a cursory reading of the Torah makes it clear that it was being transmitted side by side with an oral tradition. Many terms and definitions used in the written law are totally undefined. Many fundamental concepts such as shekhita (slaughtering of animals in a kosher fashion), divorce and the rights of the firstborn are all assumed as common knowledge by text, and are not elaborated on. There are literally dozens of cases throughout the Torah where it is assumed that the reader is familiar with the details - from an unwritten (oral) tradition. In short, the Oral Law describes how to fulfill the Torah's commandments. It is explicated in a collection of rabbinic works collectively known as "the oral law". These works include the Mishnah, the Tosefta, the two Talmuds (Babylonian and Jerusalem), and the early Midrash compilations.


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